Mind if I state the obvious? Steve Jobs is the undisputed master of the tech-product keynote, and if there’s anyone who’s a very distant second place, it sure ain’t Bill Gates. Yet the only other tech keynote that’s got any history to it other than the Jobs Macworld Expo ritual has been the Bill Gates keynote in Las Vegas, a tradition even more venerable than the Macworld Expo Stevenote. It even outlasted Comdex, the show it was given at–Gates simply transferred his act to CES.
But with Gates’ retirement from active duty at Microsoft, next month’s CES will be headlined by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. He’ll give keynote on Wednesday, January 7th–the day after Phil Schiller gives his first and final presentation as Steve Jobs’ substitute at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. In two days, we’ll see two changings of the keynote guard at the only two keynotes that ever mattered.
Jobs and Gates: The two most iconic entrepreneurs that tech has produced to date. Schiller and Ballmer? Not iconic. It’s like seeing Marlin Perkins sidekick Jim Fowler take over Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom the same week that Ed McMahon assumes the duties of hosting The Tonight Show.
In the era of Jobs and Gates, you didn’t have to give a nanosecond’s thought to who would give the more impressive presentation. With Schiller vs. Ballmer, it’s a tougher call. We’ve seen both of them do demos before, but the spotlight has never shined on them quite as brightly as it will in three weeks.
Who will be the new king of the conference keynote? (Yes, I know that Schiller plans to abdicate after one morning.) You’ve got me, but as we prepare to answer that question, we can at least prep ourselves by analyzing existing footage of the two execs ‘ communication styles.
So who would you rather watch at work next month? So help me, I may witness both in person…